Texas Rangers

Rangers have pitching holes to fill for 2019. This week could be the when the work begins

MLB’s general managers are convening on Carlsbad, Calif., this week for their annual meetings, which have the reputation of being the site where the off-season business of baseball begins.

A bunch of executives getting together, maybe knocking down a few cocktails after the day’s agenda, creates an environment for trade ideas to develop.

Agents make the rounds from suite to suite, discussing the free agents they have available.

But it’s unusual for any significant deals to be signed during the GM meetings. Deals might start popping up a week or two afterward, as has been the case in Texas Rangers history with Joe Nathan and Doug Fister.

Don’t expect anything different from these meetings. Besides, the Rangers have already made their most significant off-season signing – manager Chris Woodward.

Jon Daniels, though, has made no secret about the Rangers’ off-season intentions in terms of player personnel. Whatever funds the Rangers have in their 2019 budget will mostly go toward the starting rotation, though not at the top of the free-agent market.

“We need to upgrade our pitching across the board. I think that goes without saying,” Daniels said shortly after the Rangers finished the Rangers season at 67-95. “There are a lot of areas we can address, and we will. I think we’ll have some internal answers, but more likely mid-season or the second half. We’ll be resourceful – free agents, minor-league free agents and trades.”

The Rangers’ spent much of their week in Arizona for their pro-scouting meetings targeting free agents who would fit and also looking at trade possibilities with the other 29 teams.

The Rangers reinforced their farm system this year with trades, via the draft and by signing international free agents, but it’s hard to imagine them trading any of their top prospects while in a rebuilding mode.

They also have a surplus of left-handed-hitting corner outfielders on the MLB roster who could be used as trade bait. Nomar Mazara’s name surfaced after the season as more likely to be dealt for help than Joey Gallo, Shin-Soo Choo or Willie Calhoun.

“Choo’s obviously a veteran, and the other guys are at different points of young careers,” Daniels said. “They potentially fit us really well, and they potentially fit other teams really well. As we address our pitching situation, I’d be willing to talk about some of our areas of depth, and that’s one of them.”

Left-hander Mike Minor is the only starter assured of a rotation spot, and he is likely to be the Opening Day starter. Veteran Edinson Volquez has completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be in the rotation, but young starters Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado and Adrian Sampson are not guaranteed rotation spots despite finishing the season in the rotation.

Daniels said toward the end of the season that the Rangers might consider bullpening or using an opener to help fill out the rotation. They flirted with the concept in September, with relievers Jeffrey Springs and Connor Sadzeck starting games.

But the GM meetings this week are more about what the Rangers don’t have and if they can start the process of filling those holes.

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